2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Colts' defensive plan finally taking shape

By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer
    2014-08-19 16:24

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Coach Chuck Pagano spent the past two seasons changing the Colts' defensive philosophy.

He wanted his players to be physical and aggressive. He wanted them to play with passion. He expected results, and he wasn't going to let anything deter this transformation.

Now, finally, it looks as if Indianapolis may be on the verge of a defensive breakthrough.

''I think we're better probably right now today than we've been at any point. We've been consistent. Again, it's so early, we have a long way to go,'' Pagano said Tuesday. ''We all had a picture when we got here of what we wanted to be and what it should look like. We're getting closer.''

In about 2 1/2 quarters, the Colts have allowed just 91 total yards and no touchdowns.

Indy (0-2) has figured out how to pressure quarterbacks despite playing without reigning NFL sacks champion Robert Mathis, who will miss the first four games of the regular season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. They held two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning to just one completion for 6 yards on Saturday and have swarmed the run.

While the doubters rightfully point out the measuring stick so far has been two preseason games against teams that aren't exactly offensive juggernauts, Mathis, the longest-tenured Colts defender, likes what he's seen.

''I feel like things are taking shape,'' he said. ''The guessing is over and we're done thinking. We can play fast now, everybody is playing fast.''

Indy could face its toughest test yet Saturday - if Drew Brees plays for the high-powered Saints.

But there's no doubt the Colts are improving.

When Pagano arrived in 2012, he inherited a defense that had allowed 430 points, the fourth-most in franchise history, and had long been castigated as the reason Indy didn't win more Super Bowls.

So he changed the script.

Instead of building a contender around a potent offense and a defense designed to protect leads, the former Ravens defensive coordinator scrapped Indy's traditional 4-3 front in favor of a more aggressive 3-4 and moved bookend pass rushers Mathis and Dwight Freeney to linebacker. While Mathis flourished in his new spot, Freeney never quite looked comfortable and was let go after the 2012 season.

General manager Ryan Grigson then scoured the free-agent market for reasonably priced players who were better fits in Pagano's system.

He came up with three starters - cornerback Greg Toler, safety LaRon Landry and linebacker Erik Walden - and added two more starters this offseason when he signed defensive lineman Arthur Jones and linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.

All the new faces have given the Colts a new personality.

''We're building our monster here, and we're going to have some swag this season,'' said Jones, who won a Super Bowl with Baltimore.

With two preseason games to go, the Colts still have something to prove, even to themselves.

First, they must continue playing this way.

Plus, they still have some holes to plug - most notably who will start at safety with Landry.

Grigson said Tuesday that Delano Howell, the front-runner in a four-man battle for the job, is consulting more doctors about an injured neck that has kept him out of practice for nearly two weeks. Howell also missed the final 10 games last season with a neck injury.

A prolonged absence would give NFL veterans Mike Adams, Colt Anderson and Sergio Brown a chance to win the job.

Grigson said he hopes to have more information before Saturday's nationally televised game.

''He's going through a whole entire process of seeing multiple people so he can formulate that opinion with his wife and his agent and himself and us and Chuck and all of us, and make the decision that's best for Delano,'' Grigson said. ''Hopefully, he's seeing another specialist so he can pinpoint what the problem is exactly and hopefully he's back out there playing for us soon.''

But with or without Howell, this year's defense is having a lot more fun.

''I've been here when we were treated like stepchildren,'' Mathis said. ''So I'm just enjoying every minute of it.''

---

AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Adrian PetersonApr 23 05:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson may not be in the Dallas Cowboys' plans after all, according Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports. Robinson said the Cowboys have not spoken to the Vikings regarding Peterson.

Demaryius ThomasApr 23 03:32p

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas has decided not to participate in offseason workouts because he does not want to suffer an injury, but general manager John Elway does not [ More ]

Will HillApr 23 03:12p

Baltimore Ravens restricted free-agent FS Will Hill signed his tender offer Thursday, April 23, according to sources. Hill received a one-year deal worth $1.54 million.

Andre EllingtonApr 23 03:02p

Arizona Cardinals RB Andre Ellington's (foot) injured foot is about 95 percent healed, and Ellington has not suffered any setbacks, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

M. Jones-DrewApr 23 02:22p

Free-agent RB Maurice Jones-Drew (Raiders) will sign a one-day deal to retire as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars next Tuesday, April 28. He played nine seasons and rushed [ More ]

Victor CruzApr 23 02:12p

New York Giants WR Victor Cruz (knee) said he believes that he will be ready to play in the season opener next season and play like he did before he suffered the injury.

Justin TuckerApr 23 01:52p

Baltimore Ravens restricted free-agent PK Justin Tucker has signed his one-year tender offer. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Bear PascoeApr 23 12:52p

Free-agent TE Bear Pascoe (Falcons) signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears Thursday, April 23. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Sam BradfordApr 23 01:53a

The Philadelphia Eagles and QB Sam Bradford have yet to make significant progress on a contract extension sparking speculation the quarterback might be traded again, although head coach Chip [ More ]

Brandin CooksApr 22 11:43p

New Orleans Saints WR Brandin Cooks (knee) spent time training together with QB Drew Brees during the offseason in San Diego. 'Man, I love everything about him, his makeup, [ More ]

Greg JenningsApr 22 06:13p

Free-agent WR Greg Jennings (Vikings) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, April 22.

Philip RiversApr 22 05:33p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers may be losing faith in the organization, according to NFL Network analyst and former Chargers' RB LaDainian Tomlinson. 'The parts around him keep [ More ]

Jacques McClendonApr 22 04:13p

Free-agent OG Jacques McClendon (Jaguars) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Wednesday, April 22.

Adrian PetersonApr 22 02:23p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is not expected to be traded by the Vikings unless the team is overwhelmed by an offer from another team, according to a source. [ More ]

Antonio BrownApr 22 02:23p

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown said he is not participating in voluntary workouts because he is spending time with his newborn child. Brown said he will report to offseason [ More ]

Marvin LewisApr 22 11:33a

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis signed a one-year extension Wednesday, April 22. He's under contract through the 2016 season.

S. RichardsonApr 21 05:23p

Kansas City Chiefs CB Shaquille Richardson (undisclosed) was released Tuesday, April 21, with a failure to disclose physical condition designation.

Adrian PetersonApr 21 01:52p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson remains a candidate to be traded, and a source close to the situation believes that if he isn't traded before or during the 2015 [ More ]

Dennis PittaApr 20 06:52p

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) is participating in the team's voluntary conditioning program that started Monday, April 20. Pitta's career remains in doubt after fracturing his right hip [ More ]

Prince AmukamaraApr 20 05:22p

New York Giants CB Prince Amukamara (biceps) said he's about 90% recovered from a torn biceps he suffered last season.

Adrian WilsonApr 20 05:02p

Updating a previous item, free-agent SS Adrian Wilson (Bears) signed a contract to officially retire with the Arizona Cardinals.

Tim TebowApr 20 03:52p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) officially signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Adrian PetersonApr 20 01:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is not in attendance for the start of the team's offseason workout program Monday, April 20, according to league sources. However, Peterson hasn't attended [ More ]

Antonio BrownApr 20 11:02a

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown is seeking a new contract and could hold out from minicamps and training camp, according to sources.

Adrian WilsonApr 20 07:22a

Free-agent SS Adrian Wilson (Bears) is expected to retire Monday, April 20, and join the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff. The Cardinals, the team Wilson played for from 2001-2012, have announced a press conference.

Tim TebowApr 19 07:42p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) is expected to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20.

Stefen WisniewskiApr 18 01:02p

Free-agent C Stefen Wisniewski (Raiders) signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday, April 18. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Ryan JensenApr 17 05:02p

Baltimore Ravens exclusive rights free-agent TE Phillip Supernaw, SS Brynden Trawick, CB Rashaan Melvin and OT Ryan Jensen re-signed with the team Friday, April 17. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonApr 17 12:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said earlier this week that he's not sure if he'll participate in the team's offseason program. Minnesota is set to start their offseason workouts [ More ]

Adrian PetersonApr 16 03:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson will not receive any further suspension after he is reinstated from the commissioner's exempt list, according to a source.

Adrian PetersonApr 16 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been informed that he will be reinstated from the commissioner exempt list starting Friday, April 17.

Sammy WatkinsApr 15 11:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (hip) is able to work out in some capacity during the team's offseason program, although head coach Rex Ryan indicated Wednesday, April 15, that [ More ]

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group